Evidence continues to show how the state’s plans for pursuing renewable energy aren’t as sound as proponents claim.
The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act passed in 2019 to address problems caused by climate change. This law mandates that the state obtain at least 70% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030. In addition, New York must achieve zero-emission energy by 2040 and lower its greenhouse gas emissions by 85% by 2050 from 1990 levels.
The Climate Action Council is a 22-member panel established by the state to outline how New York should achieve these goals. On Dec. 19, the group approved the final draft for its scoping plan.
According to the document, reducing greenhouse gas emissions will require various strategies. On this page, we’ve previously argued that some of these tactics will substantially increase expenses and strain available resources.
One method will be to limit power sources for people’s homes, businesses and vehicles. State officials have advocated that all new buildings only be allowed to use electricity to power them (no gas lines may be connected) — and for existing homes, residents whose fossil fuel-burning heating units give out after 2030 would have to replace them with a zero-emission system. New state regulations will require all new passenger cars and trucks sold in New York to be zero-emissions by 2035.
Another part of the state’s strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions is to approve more solar and wind projects.
Unfortunately, New York has not been as progressive as it should be when it comes to some other categories of green power. Nuclear energy has accounted for a lower percentage of the state’s total energy generation, 34% in 2019 to 25% in 2021, according to information from U.S. Energy Information Administration. And the refusal of state authorities to acknowledge biomass as a source of renewable energy may force the closure of ReEnergy Black River, which provides Fort Drum will all its electricity needs by converting wood debris into energy through a boiling process.
The New York Independent System Operator, a nonprofit group that oversees the state’s bulk electricity grid, is concerned that creating renewable sources of power is not keeping pace with demand. Its 2021-2030 Comprehensive Reliability Plan issued nearly two years ago warned that the state may soon reach a “tipping point” where electricity production and transmission capabilities fall short of what’s needed to power substantial regions.
The latest setback to New York’s climate goals comes from 18-month study ordered by the state Public Service Commission. Conducted by the New York State Environmental Research and Development Agency, this document the potential for energy generated by wind turbine projects in both Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.
The study estimated that electricity produced by windmills in the two lakes would cost between 55% and 230% more per megawatt than electricity generated by land-based windmills or solar power. While the annual average wind speeds on these waterways are sufficient to provide considerable renewable energy, overwhelming negative factors of cost of construction and maintenance; negative effects on the view, wildlife, and the fishing and tourism industries; potential negative environmental effects; the potential negative effects of ice on the windmills; and the difficulties in transmission of the generated power to land far outweigh such projects potential positive contributions.
We have long argued on this page that state authorities are correct in their assessment that we need to begin moving beyond fossil fuels. And some of their plans are helping to accomplish this.
However, New York at this stage lacks the resources to achieve some of the major goals they have. We need to take a more realistic look at what can be done without putting too great a strain on our power grid or the household budgets of local residents.
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